Yorkshire Dales Walks
Embsay Crag & Crookrise Crag
Date: 26th May 2015
Distance: 4.8 miles
Ascent: 1000 feet
Time: 3 hours 20 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD998544
A super evening walk visiting some of the fine gritstone outcrops on Embsay Moor including Embsay Crag, Deer Gallows and Crookrise Crag.
Route Summary: Embsay Reservoir - Embsay Crag - Wayshaw Bogs - Deer Gallows Ridge - East Harts Hill - Crookrise Crag - Crag Nook - Embsay Reservoir
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: The Embsay and Barden Moor region between Skipton and Grassington is one of my favourite areas in the Yorkshire Dales. Dominated by heather and gritstone it is quite different in character to the limestone country that more readily springs to mind when thinking about the Dales. It is an area that I've returned to numerous times and with it being less than a half hour drive from where I live a perfect place to head out to enjoy an evening walk when the days get longer.
On this occasion I'd actually set off after work to visit Beamsley Beacon but at virtually the last moment, as I approached the turn off for Beamsley, I decided instead to head for Embsay and do this walk. Parking at Embsay Reservoir I chose to do the route anti-clockwise so that I could hopefully catch a decent sunset from Crookrise Crag.
The climb from the north side of the reservoir up on to Embsay Crag was quick and enjoyable with increasingly good views south over Skipton and the Aire valley. I had the top of Embsay Crag all to myself and I spent a bit of time exploring the scattering of gritstone outcrops surrounding this impressive mini-peak.
My next objective was the large outcrops of Deer Gallows. Leaving the path between Embsay Crag and North Earls I began to follow a thin path that looked like it was going to cross Moor Beck and contour round to Deer Gallows. Unfortunately it disappeared in to a reedy marsh around Moor Beck and the subsequent few hundred metres across the southern edge of Wayshaw Bogs proved to be quite soggy underfoot. It was worth it though for the views back to Embsay Crag and down to Embsay Reservoir from the dramatic Deer Gallows.
From Deer Gallows a thin climbers path brought me to a small cairn where I picked up another path heading north which soon turned into a wide stony track taking me over East Harts Hill. My initial plan had been to carry on to the Rylstone bridleway and then cross Waterfall Gill to reach Crookrise Crag. However, a passing estate ranger in his landrover made me change my mind. He was adamant it would be a bit of a rush to make it on to Crookrise Crag before sunset and encouraged me to take a short cut east across the pathless moor to Crookrise Crag. I was quite happy to take his advice though, given that these are grouse moors, I was slightly surprised at being actively encouraged to go bashing through the heather.
As it happened I arrived at the trig point on Crookrise Crag over an hour before sunset so I would have had plenty of time to take the route I'd initially planned. On the other hand it gave me the opportunity to sit down and really enjoy spending some time soaking up the views. These became increasingly attractive as the sun slowly began to set and I was treated to some glorious colours before the sun finally disappeared behind some clouds. In the fading light it was then a simple descent south to the reservoir.
There are so many decent paths that I felt a bit guilty for twice taking a short cut across the moor. Certainly if someone was doing this area for the first time then including Waterfall Gill and a brief diversion to the Rylstone Cross is a must. Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and the hour I spent on Crookrise Crag was very special indeed.